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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y008332/1
Title: Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing Platform for Carbon Nanotube Devices - Phase II
Principal Investigator: De Volder, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Boies, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Exobotics Innotronic Solutions Laser Micromachining Limited
Nosmotech Ltd Q-Flo Ltd Semefab Scotland Ltd
Zinergy UK ltd
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2024 Ends: 31 January 2027 Value (£): 864,593
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Jun 2023 Adventurous manufacturing round 2 follow on prioritisation panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one of the most widely studied and commercially attractive nanoparticles studied to date. Their commercial success is best quantified by the production volume of CNTs, which is growing exponentially, and is currently estimated at 5000 ton/yr. In part, this success can be attributed to the physical properties of CNTs, some of which are unlike any other engineering material (e.g. Young's Modulus of 1 TPa, a tensile strength of 100 GPa, thermal conductivities up to 3500 Wm-1K-1). However, these off-the-chart properties only apply to high quality individual nanotubes whereas most commercial applications require tens to millions of carbon nanoparticles to be assembled into one device. Unfortunately, the mechanical and electronic figures of merit typically drop by at least an order of magnitude in comparison to the constituent nanoparticles once integrated into an assembly. It is therefore critical to develop new manufacturing processes which enable assembling CNTs in a controlled fashion and to integrate these CNT aggregates in devices. These devices are extremely challenging to manufacture reliably, not only because of challenges in the synthesis and assembly of CNTs but also because these fragile CNT structures need to be interfaced with electrodes for electrical read-out, and often need to be in contact with gases or liquids for sensing, microfluidic, biomedical and energy storage applications.

In this EPSRC Adventurous Manufacturing grant, we demonstrate a multi-scale manufacturing approach that allows to individually optimise different device length scales in an approach that has never been attempted previously. Bringing these manufacturing methods together is challenging because they rely on different alignment processes and have different thermal budgets, but when integrated correctly, phase 1 of the project demonstrated that they enable the manufacturing of radically new nanomaterial based devices. Ultimately, this new set of manufacturing techniques form a platform technology that can be used to solve a multitude of engineering problems and find applications in chemical sensors, biomedical applications, microfluidics and actuators. This project is partnering with UK based manufacturing companies to ensure that the processes developed in this project are embedded in the UK industry and become easily accessible to both academic and industrial stakeholders.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk